South Africa

Roughly seven million people are living with HIV in South Africa

South Africa, home to over 50 million people, has one of the continent's biggest and most developed economies.

Map of MSF's activities in South Africa, 2015Until 1994 it was ruled by a white minority which enforced a separation of races with its policy of apartheid.

The apartheid government eventually negotiated itself out of power after decades of international isolation, armed opposition and mass protests.

The democratically-elected leadership encouraged reconciliation and set about redressing social imbalances.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has worked in South Africa since 1999, caring for tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS patients. 

  • {{ fact.node.field_facts }} {{ fact.node.field_facts_units }}
    {{ fact.node.field_post_fact }}

    {{ fact.node.field_facts_explanation }}

MSF's work in South Africa: 2015

In July, MSF opened the Kgomotso care centre to provide emergency medical and psychosocial care to victims of sexual violence in Rustenburg, a large town in the ‘Platinum Belt’ mining area of South Africa.

In Rustenburg one in three women report having been raped at some point in their life. Since the project opened, MSF health promotion teams have spoken to over 25,000 adults and high school students about sexual and gender-based violence.

Raising public awareness and encouraging women to break their silence is also extremely important, as the preliminary results of an MSF survey show that up to 30 percent of women do not seek medical care after a sexual assault.

{{ ctaright.node.field_explanation }}

Emergency intervention in Durban

In April, an emergency team from our Eshowe project responded to an outbreak of xenophobic violence in the coastal city of Durban. Over 7,000 migrants, mainly Malawians, Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Congolese and Burundians, fled and sought refuge in three hastily erected displacement camps.

MSF provided medical care, psychosocial counselling, water and sanitation logistics, and helped coordinate the response with other organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN Refugee Agency.

Stop Stock Outs

The Stop Stock Outs Project (SSP) is a civil society initiative in which MSF, in collaboration with other organisations, monitors availability of essential drugs in clinics across the country, engages with health authorities to monitor stock outs, and pushes for shortages to be resolved more quickly.

Published at the 7th SA AIDS Conference in Durban in July, the second SSP report revealed that one in four clinics surveyed experienced shortages of medicines, thereby confirming that drug stock outs are a threat to public health and could undermine the progress made in South Africa’s antiretroviral (ARV) programme, which is the largest in the world, reaching over three million patients.


In Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town, MSF’s oldest HIV project in South Africa continues to provide specialised treatment for children failing ARVs, as well as develop innovative ways to support HIV-positive young people and pregnant women, and is at the forefront of operational research to diagnose and treat HIV-infected infants at birth.

MSF provides testing and treatment for HIV and also tuberculosis (TB), as co-infection rates are high.


MSF’s HIV–TB programme covering Mbongolwane and Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal continues to ‘bend the curves’ of the epidemic. In 2015, more than 60,000 people were tested for HIV, 750,000 condoms were distributed and over 3,600 men underwent voluntary circumcision, which is proven to decrease the risk of HIV transmission.

find out more in our international activity report